Title IX Will Protect Against Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity According to Department of Education

July 8, 2021
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Title IX of the Education Amendment Acts of 1972 prohibits discrimination against individuals on the basis of sex in any educational institution that receives federal funding. The legal world has long understood this to mean that schools needed to offer substantially similar educational and extra-curricular opportunities to students, regardless of gender.

However, recent changes in the law have expanded the interpretation of the law. The United States Supreme Court ruled in Bostock v. Clayton County, 140 S. Ct. 1731, 590 U.S. 2020 that discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity constitutes sex discrimination as described in Title IX. In light of this ruling, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a notice of interpretation on June 23, 2021. In this notice, OCR has jurisdiction to investigate alleged instances of discrimination based on a complainant’s sexual orientation or gender identity.

The Effects of the Notice of Interpretation

KJK has a history of representing students and professors facing allegations of Title IX violations. Traditionally, this involved providing help against allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct or discrimination against someone for their gender. These included cases of academic retaliation, inappropriate touching, and sexual assault. However, the basis for these allegations always centered around the narrow interpretation of Title IX.

This expansion of the OCR’s jurisdiction could lead to a new class of Title IX investigations. Now, schools have a duty to report any apparent discrimination that centers around a student’s sexual orientation or gender identity, which can encompass harassment, hazing, or forms of intimidation. As always, it is essential that individuals facing these allegations be able to mount an effective defense to protect their academic futures.

Ensuring that Students Involved in Title IX Proceedings Receive Fair Due Process

Students and members of faculty involved in Title IX violations must navigate their school’s policies concerning Title IX proceedings. Colleges and universities have the obligation under the law to establish investigatory bodies to handle complaints. However, beyond this basic requirement, the schools are allowed a lot of leeway to tailor their policies to fit institutional goals. Sometimes, these policies prevent transparency in the Title IX process, making it difficult to present a defense or pursue a case.

As devastating as a Title IX investigation based on sexual orientation discrimination can be for a person’s academic career, it is important to remember that some of these allegations might run parallel to criminal charges. Instances of assault, stalking, inappropriate touching, and assault are all serious matters for a criminal court. Our firm may be able to represent your interests in these cases as well. Even if a criminal court does not issue a conviction for a charge, schools may still issue penalties on their own.

We Can Protect Your Student’s Rights During a Title IX Dispute Involving Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity

The recent notice of interpretation from the Department of Education states that the Department’s enforcement arm now considers instances of violence or discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity to be a Title IX violation. This means that schools must take action if they receive a credible report of discrimination, harassment, or violence against a member of their student body or faculty because of that person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This could lead to a significant increase in Title IX investigations.

KJK has worked for years to advise all students, both complainants and respondents, and faculty involved in Title IX matters. Give us a call now to talk about your case.